There’s a lot that’s happened since my last mock draft. We’ve had the combine, the Jets have moved up to the 3rd position, the Bills and the Bengals have swapped first round picks and the Patriots have exchanged Brandon Cooks for the Rams first round pick. As well as all that we’re through the high point of free agency and know where all the top quarterbacks have gone. Oh, and San Francisco beat Oakland in a coin toss and secured the 9th pick in the first round!
So, as we’re now just over two weeks from the draft proper I thought it a good opportunity to do a new mock draft. Just like the last draft, I’m not claiming to be a scouting expert, and nor do I have exposure to any back-room staff. This is just what I think will happen based on team needs, what I’ve heard and read in the media and the little bit of video research I have had time to do.
Unlike the last one, I am going to predict some trades as I think they’ll heavily influence moves afterwards. This likely makes the whole thing a little less accurate as to what will happen but oh well! Here goes….
- Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Cleveland have done a lot of business so far in the offseason and some of it looks good. I really want them to do the sensible thing here and take what will be their franchise QB for the future. Darnold can sit behind Tyrod Taylor for the first year, learn the offence and get to grips with the pace of the NFL and come out firing in 2019.
TRADE ALERT! Buffalo Bills trade their two first round picks in 2018 and their first-round pick in 2019 to New York Giants to move up to the second pick
- Buffalo Bills – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Despite signing AJ McCarron, Buffalo are hot favourites to trade up to take a QB high in the draft. They’ve got the draft capital to make this happen though it would represent the first time that the Giants new GM, Dave Gettleman has traded down in the first round of the draft. If it does happen, Buffalo will take Josh Allen and like Darnold he’ll sit for the first year. By all accounts, Allen has one of the biggest, most talented arms ever seen which will fit in well in the frigid conditions of the North East.
- New York Jets – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
QBs taken in each of the first three picks. Yep. There’s no way the Jets traded up to this spot to do anything but take a QB for the future. Out of all the top rated QBs, Rosen is considered the most pro-ready but with McCowan on the roster the Jets have the option of easing him in. What McCowan will do well is help Rosen adapt to the NFL (providing Rosen’s reported ego doesn’t get in the way!)
- Cleveland Browns – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
There’s a lot of chat about the Browns trading down here. But that’s the Browns of the old and things have changed in Cleveland. If the Browns come away with Darnold and Barkley they’ll have an incredibly happy fan base – I know I’d be happy with those two! There has also been talk about Chubb being taken here and whilst the prospect of Myles Garrett and Bradley Chubb teaming up on the defensive line is an intriguing one, I think it would be Barkley that really lights up the fan base.
- Denver Broncos – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
I came so close to putting Baker Mayfield in here. But Denver were at their best when they had DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller both rushing the opposing QB. By picking Chubb here they have a chance of getting to that level of play again. Besides, they have Case Keenum now as well……
- Indianapolis Colts – Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
The Colts will be slightly aggrieved that Chubb doesn’t fall to them but in Nelson they get a plug and play guard who will protect the vulnerable Andrew Luck for the next ten to twelve years.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Derwin James, S, Florida State
James’ draft stock is rising and whilst many might be surprised to see him go this high and before other highly touted defensive backs I think he serves a need in Tampa. James is incredibly versatile and can line up at safety, nickel cornerback and linebacker. He’ll be an intriguing toy with which Mike Smith can play with.
- Chicago Bears – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
The Bears need cornerback help and the best one falls to them. He may be slightly undersized, but Ward is a highly skilled player who will provide excellent cover opposite Kyle Fuller.
- San Francisco 49ers – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Vriginia Tech
This is another spot where there could be a trade, possibly with Miami but in this instance, I’m leaving that one be and the 49ers take one of the youngest players to enter the draft. Edmunds is a sideline to sideline defender who can cover tight ends and slot receivers as well as stuff the run and rush the passer. This is an intriguing piece for the 49ers defence.
- Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
This is a big need for the Raiders and whilst Smith might be slightly undersized he has excellent quickness and skills. Like Edmunds he has the ability to cover most players as well as be an excellent blitz defender.
- Miami Dolphins – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklaholma
Miami either trade up to get him or hope that no one jumps ahead of them. Either way I think this could happen. Mayfield is a winner and that’s what Miami need at the QB position, whilst he may sit behind Tannehill for a year when he does come to the fore he’ll be the leader that this project of a team needs. My only concern is what might happen off the field with Baker being in Miami.
- New York Giants (from Buffalo) – Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
The Giants have a lot of needs, most notably on the offensive line, but here is not the time to make that pick given what they have upcoming later. What they also need is an edge rusher to play opposite Olivier Vernon now that Jason Pierre-Paul has gone. Davenport is raw but possess the physical capabilities to be a strong pass rusher.
- Washington Redskins – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama
A versatile defender who is likely to be a corner at the NFL level. With the departure of Kendall Fuller to Kansas as part of the deal to bring Alex Smith to Washington, the Redskins need new talent on the back end and Fitzpatrick will definitely do that.
- Green Bay Packers – Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
Has had a few off the field issues but overall the talent is high and being in Green Bay, those off the field issues might not be issues for very long. Green Bay need support within the defensive backs and Hughes has the physique and skills to be a starter from day one.
- Arizona Cardinals – Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
I’ve not seen Hernandez go this high in any mock drafts, but I do like the player and he meets a need in Arizona. If the Cardinals don’t trade up to take a QB then they need to add quality players to the o-line to help protect the oft injured Sam Bradford. Hernandez has average height and build for the position but has great strength to protect the passer as well as open holes up in the running game, so when you have David Johnson at RB…….
- Baltimore Ravens – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
This pick is too obvious but so so likely. The Ravens need WR help and outgoing GM Ozzie Newsome loves players from Alabama. Ridley is the top receiver in the draft and whilst his tape might not show it will meet the need in Baltimore.
- LA Chargers – Vita Vea, DT, Washington
This is just nasty. Vea in between Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Vea is a huge defender and can swallow up runs as well as get to the passer. With this defensive line, the AFC West better watch out.
- Seattle Seahawks – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Following the offseason moves, Seattle now need help at CB and with his size and skillset, Jackson could be a like for like replacement for Richard Sherman.
- Dallas Cowboys – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The Cowboys have addressed their needs at WR and also through the franchise tag kept their best pass rusher from last season. Now they get a versatile middle linebacker to help bolster the defence. I love Sean Lee but he’s too often injured and now getting on in age so Evans comes in as a direct replacement.
- Detroit Lions – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Detroit have a few needs and with new head coach and former Patriots defensive coordinate Matt Patricia at the helm, they could further bolster their defence. But the Lions have for so long, suffered from a less than adequate running game. They may have bought in Blount but with his age he’s not an every down back. Guice will provide the thrust to get the team to the opposing end zone whilst maintaining ball control to give the defence a rest
- Cincinnati Bengals – James Daniels, C, Iowa
The Bengals need a better centre to open up running lanes for second year RB Mixon. Daniels is very athletic and technically proficient centre who opened up lanes for his runners in the college games.
- New York Giants (from Buffalo) – Connor Williams, OT, Texas
If the Giants are going to stick with Manning at QB then they need to get better at protecting him. Nate Solder has come in and will play left tackle and opposite him they now add Williams. Didn’t have the best of seasons in 2017 but has the technical expertise to step up and be a good tackle in the NFL.
- New England Patriots – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
As above, Solder is now with the Giants and the Patriots need to protect Brady. McGlinchey has great size for the position and experience playing left and right tackle in the college game. Like Williams, he has the traits to emerge as a quality tackle in the NFL,
- Carolina Panthers – Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
A strong, quick receiver who has excellent route running abilities. Kirk can line up in both the slot and on the outside and has the potential to be an excellent weapon for Cam Newton.
- Tennessee Titans – Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Vander Esch is a fast riser in this years draft and with the departure of Avery Williamson at the end of the season this is now a need for the Titans. He’s a highly productive tackler and has the speed and size to mirror tight ends in the passing game.
- Atlanta Falcons – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
This fills a big need for the Falcons after Dontari Poe left for Carolina. Payne is an instinctive run blocker who showed up well at the Combine. He has the ability to improve in pass rushing whilst he did not show the skill so much in the college game.
- New Orleans Saints – Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota
The Saints could surprise us and take a QB in the first round to sit behind Brees in what will likely be his last two years in the NFL. But because it is his last hurrah and because they were close last year, I think the Saints will go all out to get Brees that second ring. Rumour was that they tried to bring Jimmy Graham back but failed, tight end is a definite need and Goedert can become that replacement and extra option for Brees in the passing game
- Pittsburgh Steelers – Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
The Steelers will be disappointed to miss out on the top inside linebackers I the draft as this is a definite need with the future of Shazier certainly in doubt. Failing that, they pick up a strong safety option in Harrison. A big man and a big hitter in college, he can provide excellent protection in zone coverage as well as attack on the blitz
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
This is somewhat of a steal if you ask me. He’s fallen due to an injury plagued season in 2017 however showed in 2016 what a player he could be. Whilst he lacks some fluidity he does have good instincts and fills a hole left by the departure of Aaron Colvin. The pass defence gets better in Jacksonville.
- Minnesota Vikings – Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
Despite playing tackle in college, Wynn will likely move to guard at the next level due to his size. Wynn is very aware of blitzers in pass protection and can cover rushing linebackers and strong safety.
- New England Patriots – Jessie Bates, S, Wake Forest
Belichick likes versatile defenders and Bates fits the bill there with the ability to line up at safety as well as cover receivers in the slot.
- Philadelphia Eagles – Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio State
Price would be taken higher than this but an injury during the combine has knocked him down a bit. I still think he’s a first round talent and his ability to cover two o-line positions with technical ability and skill make him a good option for a team looking for depth, such as the Eagles